In my circle people are celebrating milestones. The big number right now, as I write, is 65! Some perspective #1 … 55 years ago The Beatles landed in the United States. Perspective #2 … Most of us who crashed through the wave of musicians who followed The Beatles’ glorious inspiration, their gift to the world, pursued our own quest in some manner.
In 1986, I was trying to build my own business with jingle work for a few local advertising agencies. I knew I needed more room musically – I needed more pop. Keith and I were in constant communique’ and he was really supportive of my writing after the Imports. In one of the many bands he had been gigging with in those days, there was a keyboardist/songwriter that he encouraged me to hear play “live”. He knew I needed a collaborator and was convinced that this musician was the writer I needed.
I met Alan Kerbey, and that was the inception of our 32 year collaboration. The majority of my original material, available for you to experience in this archive, was co-written with Alan, so he and his work are a constant in my memoir.
I would like to end this introduction/dedication piece with a copy of the letter I wrote to Alan on the occasion of his 60th birthday. His daughter asked everyone to write and contribute to a collection she put together for him. Oh yes, before I move on any further – Thanks, Keith!
Here is the letter I wrote:
Five years before I met you Alan, I began writing songs. What an interesting, driving, possessing and struggled pursuit. Words that had previously flowed out as poetry and prose now had meter, melody and a singable form. I had been singing since my grandfather stood me next to his piano, daily, and taught me “big singer” tunes from musicals, film scores and Baptist church music; you would have thought that writing songs would have been a given. It took a life crisis or two at 25 to get the musical foundation and poetry to sync up and sing from my soul.
I was trying to make my way in a rock world of big hair, big sound and big ego…of course, by the time we were introduced, I had cultivated all of that. At our first meeting you let me have a stab at writing lyrics to one of your recent compositions and our collaboration was born, 1986. You were 33 and I was just turning 30. Look at us now…the occasion of this letter is your 60th birthday.
Our body of work together is at about 40 tunes, including all of the family/friend tribute gifts pieces we have created. Not bad considering the majority of those 27 years have been spent long distance. Our first long distance co-write was 1991 following the move to Somerville. Cutting edge, dude! I am so very blessed to have a true collaborator like Rogers and Hammerstein, Lennon/McCartney and John/Taupin, and despite our financial success not falling in the same vein as the above mentioned (yet), my sense of success and accomplishment is of that caliber. I recognize that this is a very unique God-given gift. And it’s truly one of the best gifts of my life. Thank you for sharing your talent and time with me over and over again.
I have tried over the years to describe, when asked, this songwriting collaboration thing; I can never quite find the right way to say…
I have a writing partner that never shies away from the girly stuff that pours out of my lyrics and melodies…
One who never lets my untrained and undisciplined approach get in the way of the process…
Someone who will entertain my ideas without judgment
One who gives the very best of himself to make the very best out of my work/myself.
Now there are so many other things I could say in this 60th birthday letter to you about family, friendship, faith and just simply knowing how to have fun, but what you have contributed to my life as my music partner has become my life’s legacy, and even though I’m fairly certain I’ve said all of this to you several times before… it’s like “60 Words for Snow”…
Thank you, I love you, Happy Birthday, December 27th, 2013
Debye Delorean Kerbey